TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kahng Presents Who Owns Human Capital? Today At Indiana

Kahng (2016)Lily Kahng (Seattle) presents Who Owns Human Capital?, 93 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2016), at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

This Article analyzes the tax law’s capital income preference through the lens of intellectual capital, an increasingly important driver of economic productivity whose value derives primarily from workers’ knowledge, experience and skills. The Article discusses how business owners increasingly are able to “propertize” labor into intellectual capital — to control their workers and appropriate the returns on their labor through the expansive use of intellectual property laws, contract and employment laws, and other legal mechanisms. The Article then shows how the tax law provides significant subsidies to the process of propertization and thereby contributes to the inequitable distribution of returns between business owners and workers. The Article’s analysis further reveals the tax law’s fundamental capital-labor distinction to be questionable, perhaps even illusory, an insight which has profound implications for the tax law.

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April 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blank Presents The Timing Of Tax Transparency Today At Duke

Blank (2016)Joshua Blank (NYU) presents The Timing of Tax Transparency, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Fairness in the administration of the tax law is the subject of intense debate in the United States. As recent headlines reveal, the Internal Revenue Service has been accused of failing to enforce the tax law equitably in its review of tax-exempt status applications by political organizations, the international tax structures of multinational corporations, and the estate tax returns of millionaires, among other areas. Many have argued that greater “tax transparency” would better empower the public to hold the IRS accountable and the IRS to defend itself against accusations of malfeasance. Mandatory public disclosure of taxpayers’ tax return information is often proposed as a way to achieve greater tax transparency. Yet, in addition to concerns regarding exposure of personal and proprietary information, broad public disclosure measures pose potential threats to the taxing authority’s ability to enforce the tax law.

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April 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lederman Presents Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? At Tulane

Ledderman (2016)Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomnington) presented Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? at Tulane as part of its Regulation and Coordination Workshop Series:

Governments commonly use deterrence methods, such as audits and the imposition of penalties, to foster compliance with tax laws. Although this approach is consistent with economic modeling of tax compliance, some scholars caution that deterrence may backfire, “crowding out” intrinsic motivations to pay taxes and thus reducing compliance. This article analyzes the evidence to date to determine the extent of such an effect. Field studies suggest that deterrence tools, such as audits, generally are highly effective at increasing tax collections but that crowding out may occur in some contexts, with respect to certain subgroups of taxpayers.

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April 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prisinzano & Yagan Present Business In The U.S.: Who Owns It And How Much Do They Pay? At NYU

NYU Law (2016)Richard Prisinzano (U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis) & Danny Yagan (UC-Berkeley) presented Business in the United States: Who Owns It and How Much Do They Pay? at NYU as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Chris Sanchirico:

"Pass-through" businesses like partnerships and S-corporations now generate over half of U.S. business income and account for much of the post-1980 rise in the top-1% income share. We use administrative tax data from 2011 to identify pass-through business owners and estimate how much tax they pay. We present three findings. (1) Relative to traditional business income, pass-through business income is substantially more concentrated among high-earners. (2) Partnership ownership is opaque: 20% of the income goes to unclassifiable partners, and 15% of the income is earned in circularly owned partnerships. (3) The average federal income tax rate on U.S. pass-through business income is 19%--much lower than the average rate on traditional corporations. If pass-through activity had remained at 1980's low level, strong but straightforward assumptions imply that the 2011 average U.S. tax rate on total U.S. business income would have been 28% rather than 24%, and tax revenue would have been approximately $100 billion higher.

Dan Shaviro (NYU):

This is an important contribution, or rather the first of what are likely to be a series of important contributions, that attempt to increase our knowledge by making use of U.S. federal tax return information about businesses in the U.S. that are taxed as pass-throughs (i.e., partnerships or S corporations). In particular, it seeks to link information from partnership-level Form 1065 returns to that from partner-level Schedule K-1 returns, thereby presenting a comprehensive picture of who reports partnership income and how much U.S. federal income tax is paid on such income. In a more rational world, this would have been done years ago, and doing it would be easier than it actually is. I'll focus here just on partnerships, although there is also some information in the paper in re. S corporations.

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April 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stark Presents Regional Taxation And Regional Tax Base Sharing In State Tax Reform Today At Colorado

Stark (2014)Kirk Stark (UCLA) presents Regional Taxation and Regional Tax Base Sharing in State Tax Reform at Colorado today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Hasen and Sloan Speck:

This article describes and evaluates a specific subset of state tax reforms—i.e., those involving regional approaches to funding subnational public goods. Reforms examined include those where policymakers devise new multijurisdictional fiscal arrangements to address regional objectives that conventional local governments, by virtue of their more limited geographic scope, are unlikely to tackle. As used in this article, the term “region” refers to a geographic area (1) constituting less than the entire jurisdiction of a state, and (2) encompassing more than one local government jurisdiction. A “regional tax” is therefore any tax (fee, assessment, etc....) limited in its application to a geographic area so defined. A closely related policy is “regional tax base sharing”—i.e., the imposition of a tax on a base that is shared among several local jurisdictions, with the proceeds distributed among those localities.

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April 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deryck van Rensburg (President Of Global Ventures, Coca-Cola) Named Dean Of Pepperdine B-School

Pepperdine 4Press Release:

Deryck J. van Rensburg has been named dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University. The former president of global ventures at The Coca-Cola Company will begin his responsibilities at the Graziadio Business School on November 1, 2016.

“After a careful search, with thoughtful faculty engagement throughout, I believe we have found just the right leader for this next chapter in the history of the Graziadio School of Business and Management,” says Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton. “In Deryck van Rensburg we have found an experienced, global strategic leader for our future. We welcome Dr. van Rensburg and his family to the Pepperdine community with great anticipation.”

Van Rensburg brings to Pepperdine 32 years of international business experience in leadership roles with The Coca-Cola Company, and formerly with Unilever PLC, where he held roles in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Greece, Romania, Belgium, and South Africa.

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April 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

As LSAT & MBE Scores Fall, 1L Enrollment Needs To Fall To 25,000 (From 35,500 in 2015)

LSATMBETaxProf Blog op-ed:  As LSAT and MBE Scores Fall, 1L Enrollment Needs To Fall To 25,000 (From 35,500), by David Barnhizer (Cleveland State):

I couldn’t stop looking at the numbers in the recently posted depiction of the severe decline in Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) results. The post included a chart showing the matriculation data for law school First-Year enrollments in the 2010—2015 period.  In what will be a brief discussion I want to discuss the information provided in the chart.  It is broken out according to range of LSAT scores (165 and above, 160-164, 155-159, 150-154, and below 150).

LSAT               2010     % of Enrollment   2015     % of Enrollment   Change
165 +:             9500               19.0%         5600               15.7%          --3900
160-164:      10,700               21.4%         5800               16.3%          --4900
155-159:      11,600               23.2%         7800               21.9%          --3800
150-154:      10,600               21.2%         7800               21.9%          --2800
Below 150:    7,000               14.0%         8500               24.0%          +1500
First Year Enrollment 2010: 49,900     First Year Enrollment 2015: 35,500

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April 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Law Firms Increasingly Use 'Moneyball' Analytics In Lateral Partner Hiring

MoneyballThe American Lawyer, How to Hire a Home-Run Lateral? Look at Their Stats:

Recruiting lateral partners is starting to look more like scouting for Major League Baseball.

Law firms are beginning to use statistical analysis similar to the "sabermetrics" methods used to evaluate ballplayers and made famous by the book and film "Moneyball." Using performance-oriented data, firms try to create profiles of the types of lawyers they need to hire to help boost profits, then search for candidates who fit the profile. They may also use the tools to estimate whether a certain candidate would help the firm's bottom line. More than 20 percent of Am Law 200 firms are starting to use these techniques, according to recruiters and software providers.

There's certainly room for improvement in the hiring process. An ALM Legal Intelligence lateral hiring report with Group Dewey Consulting released last fall found that 30 percent of lateral partners returned less than 30 percent of their expected book of business.

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April 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Student Estate Planning/Estate & Gift Tax Writing Competitions

ACTECThe Legal Education Committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), 2016 Law Student Writing Competition:

This competition is open to any law student in good standing (full-time or part-time) who is currently or recently enrolled at the time of submission or during the 90-day period prior to submission as a J.D. or LL.M. candidate in an ABA-accredited law school within the United States or its possessions.

ABA RPP&T (2016)ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, 2016 Law Student Writing Contest:

Open to any law school student in good standing, over the age of 18, who is currently attending an ABA-accredited law school within the United States and its possessions, and who is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States.

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April 7, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brunson:  The Taxation Of Mutual Funds

Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), The Taxation of RICs: Replicating Portfolio Investment or Eliminating Double Taxation?, 20 Stan. J.L. Bus. & Fin. 222 (2015):

Mutual FundsMutual funds and other regulated investment companies currently occupy a central space in American households’ financial lives. Is spite of their near-ubiquity, though, regulated investment companies occupy a strange tax limbo as quasi-pass-through entities, neither fully taxable nor fully tax-transparent. To qualify for this quasi-pass-through status, regulated investment companies must, among other things, distribute the bulk of their income to shareholders annually.

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April 7, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1064

IRS Logo 2 Washington Free Beacon, IRS Denied Tax-Exempt Status to 57 Religious Groups in 2015; 5,681 Applications Left in Limbo:

The IRS denied tax-exempt status to 57 religious or charitable groups in 2015, according to recent data from agency.

The IRS rejected a total of 67 applications for tax-exempt status in 2015, and religious groups comprised the majority of denials. There were 92,653 total applications by religious and charitable groups in 2015. Of those applications, 86,915 were approved, 57 were denied, and 5,681 were left in limbo.

Attorney Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, represents a number of conservative and pro-life non-profit organizations that have faced long battles to have their tax-exempt status approved by the IRS. Among his clients, two are still awaiting determination by the IRS—one group has been waiting for more than six years, and another for nearly six years. “The process is supposed to be a fairly quick process,” says Sekulow. “If the IRS needs more information, they’re supposed to ask you for that.” ...

Sekulow isn’t persuaded that the IRS is being open about the process. “The IRS was wrong then and while the agency says it has stopped such discriminatory action, there’s really nothing that leads us to believe that this administration has really changed,” he continued.

Sekulow is taking his clients’ cases to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals next week to challenge the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Many of the groups he represents that have gotten approval have had to put up with demands by the IRS for Internet passwords and usernames, donor lists, and charitable activities of family members.

Sekulow also stressed that the waiting period these groups have to go through can be as destructive as being denied tax-exempt status. “The IRS is playing the ‘delay game’—keeping these organizations guessing about the status of their applications and ultimately whether their applications will be approved,” said Sekulow. “I think that keeping people hanging in the balance can be as destructive as an outright denial because lengthy delays can stop the momentum that many of these start-up groups experienced. Lengthy delays may not only sap the momentum of a group, it produces a chilling effect on the constitutionally protected speech,” he said.

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April 7, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Burman Presents An Analysis Of The Ted Cruz And Bernie Sanders Tax Plans Today At Georgetown

Burman (2016)Len Burman (Tax Policy Center) presents An Analysis of the Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders Tax Plans at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s tax proposal would (1) repeal the corporate income tax, payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and estate and gift taxes; (2) collapse the seven individual income tax rates to a single 10 percent rate, increase the standard deduction, and eliminate most other deductions and credits; and (3) introduce a new 16 percent broad-based consumption tax. The plan would cut taxes at most income levels, although the highest-income households would benefit the most and the poor the least. Federal tax revenues would decline by $8.6 trillion (3.6 percent of gross domestic product) over a decade.

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April 6, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Prisinzano Presents Business In The U.S.: Who Owns It And How Much Do They Pay? Today At Penn

Penn (2016)Richard Prisinzano (U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis) presents Business in the United States: Who Owns It and How Much Do They Pay? at Pennsylvania today as part of its Center for Tax Law and Policy Seminar Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

"Pass-through" businesses like partnerships and S-corporations now generate over half of U.S. business income and account for much of the post-1980 rise in the top-1% income share. We use administrative tax data from 2011 to identify pass-through business owners and estimate how much tax they pay. We present three findings. (1) Relative to traditional business income, pass-through business income is substantially more concentrated among high-earners. (2) Partnership ownership is opaque: 20% of the income goes to unclassifiable partners, and 15% of the income is earned in circularly owned partnerships. (3) The average federal income tax rate on U.S. pass-through business income is 19%--much lower than the average rate on traditional corporations. If pass-through activity had remained at 1980's low level, strong but straightforward assumptions imply that the 2011 average U.S. tax rate on total U.S. business income would have been 28% rather than 24%, and tax revenue would have been approximately $100 billion higher.

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April 6, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Faulhaber Presents Designing R&D Credits And Patent Boxes In The Age Of BEPS At Northwestern

FaulhaberLily Faulhaber (Georgetown) presented Tax Incentives for Innovation: Designing R&D Credits and Patent Boxes in the Age of BEPS at Northwestern yesterday as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation  Workshop Series hosted by Herbert Beller, Charlotte CraneDavid Cameron, Philip Postlewaite, Jeffrey Sheffield, and Robert Wootton:

For decades, governments have turned to their tax codes to support research and development and innovation. In recent years, countries have added yet another tool to their repertoire of tax incentives for R&D: innovation boxes, sometimes referred to as patent boxes or IP boxes, which provide benefits to income from intellectual property. In response to the increasing number of innovation boxes, the forty-four OECD and G-20 member countries involved in the recent BEPS Project developed a requirement known as the nexus approach that places limits on the design of these tax incentives.

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April 6, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lipman Presents The Individual Tax Penalty And The Affordable Care Act Today At UNLV

LipmanFrancine Lipman (UNLV) presents Irresponsibly Taxing Irresponsibility: The Individual Tax Penalty and the Affordable Care Act, 23 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y ___ (2016) (with James Owens (J.D. 2015, UNLV)) at the Western Decision Sciences Institute Annual Meeting today at UNLV:

This article first details and then revises the newly implemented penalty tax (the Shared Responsibility Payment or the “SRP”) under the Affordable Care Act. The SRP was designed by Congress to ensure that every American obtains minimum essential healthcare coverage so that comprehensive and affordable health care coverage can be achieved for all qualifying Americans. While the penalty tax was deemed constitutional by the United States Supreme Court, it is extremely complicated and has challenged many Americans especially lower-income individuals.

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April 6, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pfizer Abandons Planned Merger With Allergan <24 Hours After Obama Administration's New Anti-Inversion Rules

Allergen PfizerFollowing up on yesterday's posts:

New York Times, Pfizer and Allergan Are Said to End Merger as Tax Rules Tighten:

Pfizer plans to abandon its $152 billion merger with Allergan — the largest deal yet aimed at helping an American company shed its United States corporate citizenship for a lower tax bill — just days after the Obama administration introduced new tax rules. ...

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April 6, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Law School Annual Academic Advising Fair

Pepperdine 1Ls swarmed my colleagues to learn more about their 2L/3L courses at our annual academic advising fair held over the lunch hour yesterday:

Fair 1

Sadly, there was a bit less interest in my corner of the curriculum:

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April 6, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

George Mason Renames Antonin Scalia Law School To Avoid Awkward Acronym 'ASSLaw'

IRS Headquarters Building In Washington, D.C. To Remain Closed For Rest Of The Week Due To Fire

IRS BuildingFollowing up on yesterday's post, IRS Building In Washington, D.C. Closed Today Due To Fire:  Washington Post, IRS HQ to Remain Closed for Repairs for the Rest of the Week:

The headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service, near the Mall in Northwest Washington, will remain closed for the rest of the week after a fire there Monday forced evacuation of the building.

The IRS said Tuesday that the fire in the basement of the building on Constitution Avenue affected the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system. “We are working to restore service as soon as possible,” the IRS said in a statement.

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April 6, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 69, No. 2 (Winter 2016):

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April 6, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Disparities At Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School Logo (2014)Harvard Law School Record, Gender Disparities at HLS:

Starting in the spring semester, 1Ls are inundated with offers of lunch panels and coffee chat invitations from the two-year student organizations on campus. Membership to the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and the Board of Student Advisors is highly selective and the organizations are frequently viewed as “honor societies” within the HLS community, making them approximate measures of normative law school success. The Shatter the Ceiling Committee of the Women’s Law Association analyzed the number of men and women in each of these organizations to see whether male and female students are gaining membership to these organizations at equal rates.

Of the three student groups examined, both the Harvard Law Review (“HLR”) and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (“HLAB”) had statistically significant deviations from the expected gender breakdown, based on the total number of male and female students in the classes of 2016 and 2017. Interestingly, the gender disparities skewed in different directions. For the classes of 2016 and 2017, HLAB had significantly more women than would be expected (c2 = 6.933, P = 0.008), with 68% women and 32% men, while HLR had significantly more men (c2 = 6.721, P = 0.01), with 35.87% women and 64.13% men. There was not a statistically significant difference in membership to the Board of Student Advisors (BSA), which had 58.14% women and 41.86% men.

Capture

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April 6, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

AALS YouTube Channel On Law Teaching

The IRS Scandal, Day 1063

IRS Logo 2 Wall Street Journal, What Does the Stonewall Cost Anyone at the IRS?:

Regarding your editorial “Chipping Away at the IRS Stonewall” (March 24): Why wouldn’t the IRS continue to stonewall? What recourse is there for the plaintiffs—or the rest of us? Can anyone at the IRS be held personally liable? If not, how does a citizenry directly punish a misbehaving federal agency? It seems to me that the IRS has nothing to lose by doing nothing, and that’s a profoundly helpless feeling.

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April 6, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fleischer:  Treasury Department Drops The Gloves On Inversions

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on this morning's post, Treasury Department Issues Third Batch Of Anti-Inversion Rules, Updated Framework For Business Tax Reform:  New York Times Deal Book, On Inversions, the Treasury Department Drops the Gloves, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Tax lawyers at the Treasury Department have grappled in recent years with the many corporations finding ways to merge with overseas “inversion” partners and, as a result of the merger or acquisition, move their legal residence offshore to reduce tax payments.

Each of the last two years, the agency took sensible and mostly modest steps to slow the trend of tax inversions. The efforts have only partly succeeded. Some giant deals, including the proposed $150 billion merger between Pfizer and Allergan, continue to dodge the Treasury’s new guidance and demonstrate the continuing allure of expatriation.

Tired of waiting for Congress to step in, lawyers at the Treasury Department have dropped the gloves.

The Treasury’s new administrative guidance that was released on Monday tackles a wide range of tax issues related to inversions, including new approaches to multistep acquisitions and earnings-stripping. The new guidance also revises and completes the rules proposed in 2014 and 2015.

The guidance cuts some companies narrow and deep, throwing the tax consequences of Pfizer’s proposed merger with Allergan, among other proposed deals, into question.

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April 5, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lawyer Employment Growth Slowed in 2015, Incomes Flat

Matt Leichter, Wage-and-Salary Lawyer Employment Slows in 2015, Incomes Flat:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) usually completes its updates of its many measures of occupational employment for the previous year by April. Data for 2015 are now available, allowing a comprehensive summary of lawyer employment for the year. For detailed discussion of what the BLS datasets are and how they address lawyer employment, I recommend the lawyer overproduction page [updated!].

Leichter

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April 5, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Knoll & Mason:  Economic Foundation Of The Dormant Commerce Clause

Michael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania) & Ruth Mason (Virginia), Economic Foundation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, 102 Va. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Last Term, a sharply divided Supreme Court decided a landmark dormant Commerce Clause case, Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. Wynne represents the Court’s first clear acknowledgement of the economic underpinnings of one of its main doctrinal tools for resolving tax discrimination cases, the internal consistency test. In deciding Wynne, the Court relied on economic analysis we provided. This Essay explains that analysis, why the majority accepted it, why the dissenters’ objections to the majority’s reasoning miss their mark, and what Wynne means for state taxation.

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April 5, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ACTEC Issues Request For Proposals For $20,000 Grant To Host T&E Symposium

ACTECThe Legal Education Committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) requests proposals for a $20,000 grant to host an academic symposium on trust and estate law during the 2017-18 academic year:

The ACTEC Foundation Symposium is intended to be the premier academic symposium on trust and estate law in the United States. The goals of the symposium are to stimulate development of scholarly work in trust and estate law, bridge the gap between the academic community and practitioners, provide opportunities for junior academics to present papers and interact with more senior academics, provide an opportunity for trust and estate professors to interact with each other, involve academics from other disciplines in discussions of trust and estate topics, and strengthen ACTEC’s image as the leading organization for trust and estate lawyers, both practitioners and academics.

The grant associated with this RFP is contingent on approval by the ACTEC Foundation.

RFPs are due by Monday, May 2, 2016, and will be considered by the Symposium Subcommittee of the ACTEC Legal Education Committee at ACTEC’s Summer Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, in June 2016. Please submit RFPs (RFP content and guidelines are set forth below) to:

Nancy A. McLaughlin
Professor of Law, University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law
Co-Chair, ACTEC Legal Education Committee
nancy.mclaughlin@law.utah.edu

Electronic submissions are fine (subject line of email should read “ACTEC Symposium RFP”).

I. RFP Content

The RFP should provide the following information.

A. Theme. The theme of the symposium should be related to trust and estate law, defined to include any topic related to the gratuitous transfer of property (e.g., probate law, trust law, elder law, transfer tax law). A broad theme permits a wide range of papers and is more likely to be successful. Past themes have included Trust Law in the 21st Century (Cardozo 2005); Inheritance Law in the 21st Century (UCLA 2008); Philanthropy Law in the 21st Century (Chicago-Kent 2009); The Uniform Probate Code: Remaking of American Succession Law (Michigan 2011); and The Role of Federal Law in Private Wealth Transfer (Vanderbilt 2014). The theme of the most recent symposium, which took place at Boston College Law School in October 2015, was The Centennial of the Estate Tax: Perspectives and Recommendations (articles will be published in the Boston College Law Review May 2016 symposium edition).

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April 5, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Basel Call For Papers:  Global Histories Of Taxation And State Finances Since The Late 19th Century

BaselVanessa Ogle (Pennsylvania) and the Institute for European Global Studies at the University of Basel (Switzerland) have issued a  Call for Papers for a symposium on Global Histories of Taxation and State Finances Since the Late 19th Century to be held at the University of Basel on December 1-3, 2016.  The deadline for submitting proposals is May 31, 2016.

Taxation has wide-ranging implications for global as well as domestic orders, ranging from budgets and public finances to inequality, the social fabric of societies, and worldwide competition for corporate profits. Since the global financial crisis of 2008 in particular, taxation and the reform of tax systems have become talking points in many parts of the North Atlantic world. Tax reform is often said to be required for fostering a more attractive business climate through reducing the tax burden and thus increasing tax competitiveness. Other voices focus on government revenues in times of empty coffers and instead call for higher tax rates especially for top earners. Thomas Piketty and his Capital in the Twenty-First Century as well as the Occupy movement in the United States have galvanized attention on the connections between taxes and inequality. Outrage at the rise of the “One Percent” is accompanied by calls for shutting down tax havens available mostly to the super rich. Whether in the United States or Britain, however, multinationals such as Google and Apple successfully play the inversion game by splitting up into multiple units and reincorporating in lower-tax countries for the purpose of obtaining better tax conditions.

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April 5, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Meta-Ranking Of Flagship U.S. Law Reviews

Bryce Clayton Newell (Tilburg University), 2016 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews:

I decided to create a meta-ranking of the possible contenders for gauging the relative importance of journals and offers: US News Overall Ranking (averaged from 2010-2017), US News Peer Reputation Ranking (also averaged from 2010-2017), W&L Combined Ranking (at default weighting; 2007-2014), and Google Scholar Metrics law journal rankings (averaging the h-index and h-median of each journal, as proposed here by Robert Anderson). I've ranked each journal within each ranking system, averaged these four ranks using a 25% weighting for each, and computed and ranked the final scores. I think this approach benefits from incorporating a couple different forms of impact evaluation (W&L + Google) while not disregarding the general sentiment that law school “prestige” (USN combined rank + peer reputation rank, each averaged over an 8-year period) is an important factor in law review placement decisions.

Here are the Top 25:

MetaRank

Journal

Change from USN Rank

MetaScore

Avg. USN Peer Rank

Avg. USN Overall Rank

W&L Rank

Google Rank

1

Harvard Law Review

1

1.5

1

2

2

1

2

The Yale Law Journal

-1

1.75

1

1

3

2

3

Stanford Law Review

0

2.75

3

3

1

4

4

Columbia Law Review

0

3.75

4

4

4

3

5

University of Pennsylvania Law Review

2

6.5

9

7

5

5

6

Michigan Law Review

4

8

8

10

8

6

7

California Law Review

1

9

7

8

12

9

8

New York University Law Review

-2

9.25

6

6

14

11

8

Virginia Law Review

1

9.25

9

9

9

10

10

The Georgetown Law Journal

4

9.75

13

14

6

6

11

Texas Law Review

4

12

15

15

10

8

12

University of Chicago L. Rev.

-7

12.75

5

5

25

16

12

Duke Law Journal

-1

12.75

11

11

16

13

14

Cornell Law Review

-1

13.25

12

13

15

13

15

UCLA Law Review

1

13.5

16

16

7

15

16

Northwestern University Law Review

-4

15.25

14

12

13

22

17

Minnesota Law Review

3

15.75

20

20

11

12

18

Vanderbilt Law Review

-1

17.5

17

17

20

16

19

Notre Dame Law Review

4

21.75

27

23

19

18

20

Iowa Law Review

5

22.5

27

25

18

20

21

Boston University Law Review

3

24.25

25

24

22

26

22

William and Mary Law Review

8

25.5

32

30

21

19

23

The George Washington L. Rev.

-2

26

23

21

29

31

23

North Carolina Law Review

11

26

21

34

28

21

25

Southern California Law Review

-7

26.5

19

18

32

37

26

Boston College Law Review

5

27.25

29

31

23

26

The big movers here (in this ranking versus the average US News Overall Rank from 2010-2017) seem to be (but there are quite a few others who moved around):

  • New York Law School moved up a whopping 38 places (to #99);
  • Vermont moved up 31 places (to #91);
  • UC Irvine dropped 30 places (to #59);
  • Akron moved up 28 places (to #99);
  • Albany moved up 27 places (to #96).

Journals like Fordham (#26, up 10 places), Hastings (#36, up 12 places), Cardozo (#42, up 18 places), American (#46, up 11 places), and Lewis and Clark (#53, up 23 places) that have been frequently referred to in Angsting Thread comments as “hitting above their weight” all also improved at least 10 places (as did Missouri, Connecticut, Denver, Brooklyn, Chicago-Kent, Seattle, Oregon, Buffalo, Santa Clara, Indy, DePaul, South Carolina, St. Louis, Hofstra, Marquette, and Howard). Other journals dropping 10 or more places include: Arkansas-Fay., Kentucky, Georgia State, Temple, SMU, Arizona State, Georgia, and Alabama.

Other sizable moves in the top 20:

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April 5, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Retired U.S. Tax Court Judge Indicted For Tax Evasion While She Sat On The Court

U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, Former United States Tax Court Judge and Husband Indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Tax Evasion and Obstruction of an IRS Audit:

Diane Kroupa Filed Fraudulent Tax Returns While a Sitting U.S. Tax Court
Judge Kroupa and Her Husband Conspired to Evade More Than $400,000 in Federal Taxes

KroupaU.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota today announced a federal indictment charging Diane L. Kroupa, 60, and her husband, Robert E. Fackler, 62, with conspiring with each other to evade assessment of taxes. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, tax evasion, making and subscribing false tax returns and obstruction of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit. The defendants are expected to appear later this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“The allegations in this indictment are deeply disturbing,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “The tax laws of this county apply to everyone, and those of us appointed to federal positions must hold ourselves to an even higher standard.”

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April 5, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Treasury Department Issues Third Batch Of Anti-Inversion Rules, Updated Framework For Business Tax Reform

IRS Building In Washington, D.C. Closed Today Due To Fire

IRS BuildingNPR, Fire Closes IRS Headquarters But Won't Affect Tax Return Processing:

A small fire forced the evacuation of the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Spokesman Terry Lemons told The Associated Press that the fire started in the basement around 3:30 p.m., and created a lot of smoke — forcing the building to be evacuated. The Washington Post reports:

The building closed about 2:45 p.m. Monday, before the fire started, "due to electrical issues with the air-conditioning system," an IRS spokesman said. He said that about 2,000 people work there and that "a few hundred" were still in the building when the fire broke out.

There were no injuries and the cause is being investigated.

The building will be closed on Tuesday because it doesn't have full electricity.

The fire will not affect processing of tax returns, which is done elsewhere, officials told The Washington Post.

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April 5, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1062

IRS Logo 2 One News Now, Media on IRS Scandal: 'We Know Nothing!':

There have been new developments in the IRS targeting scandal but if you watch the news on ABC, CBS or NBC, good luck hearing about it.

That's because it's been more than 500 days since the broadcast news networks covered the scandal.

According to a new study by Geoff Dickens, deputy research director at the Media Research Center, CBS and NBC last reported on the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS in October of 2014. ABC lagged way behind last covering it in May of that year, nearly 700 days ago.

"This is clearly abuse of power and they've stopped covering it," Dickens says of the networks.

Dickens points out that just last week a federal appeals court scolded the agency and ordered it to turn over a secret list of conservative groups they targeted so a class action suit could move forward. ... [T]here was no mention on the so-called "Big Three" networks.

Also unreported in recent months, Dickens notes, is the Justice Department ending its investigation without any criminal charges filed against Lois Lerner, whose emails show she called Republicans "evil and dishonest."

There was not even a news story – slanted or otherwise – when the U.S. House began procedures to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

"It's really stunning," observes Dickens, who says the IRS scandal is worse than the Watergate scandal under Richard Nixon.

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April 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Access Group Awards $335,000 In Legal Education Grants

Access GroupPress Release,  Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis Awards $335,000 in New Grants to Advance Legal Education:

Access Group’s Center for Research & Policy Analysis (the Center) announced today the award of $335,000 in new grants to advance legal education. The Center operates four grant programs to fund research and other projects related to legal education that focus on access, affordability and value. ...

  • A $138,000 grant to the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education to analyze the law school admissions market. A set of regression models will be estimated for predicting the prices charged by law schools reporting data to the American Bar Association. Similarly, institutional characteristics such as LSAT scores, bar passage rates and employment outcomes will be mapped. The mapping will provide a first estimate of the kinds of changes a contracting market is likely to have on the future of legal education, including the impact on institutional diversity and enrollment prospects.

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April 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Posner Explains Why We Should 'Burn All Copies of the Bluebook'

Bluebook (20th edition)The Volokh Conspiracy:  Judge Richard Posner Explains Why We Should “Burn All Copies of the Bluebook”, by Ilya Somin (George Mason):

In a recent article in the ABA Journal, Judge Richard Posner – who is probably the nation’s most influential federal judge outside the Supreme Court – is quoted as saying that we should “burn all copies of the Bluebook,” the standard system of legal citation produced by a consortium of leading law reviews. ...

In general, I am strongly opposed to book burning of any kind. But in this case, I can only say, burn, baby, burn! Like Posner, I have long argued that the Bluebook and its hundreds of pages of useless, time-wasting rules should be abolished and replaced with a much simpler citation system, perhaps similar to those used in other academic fields. It would save lawyers, legal scholars, and law students enormous amounts of time and effort.

Judge Posner laid out his critique of the Bluebook in greater detail in this Yale Law Journal article. In my view, however, he was a little too generous to the Bluebook when he compared it to the pyramids of ancient Egypt. ...

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April 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Panama Papers Expose How Politicians And Their Cronies Use Offshore Tax Havens

Shobe:  Supercharged IPOs, The Up-C, And Private Tax Benefits In Public Offerings

Gladriel Shobe (BYU), Supercharged IPOs, the Up-C, and Private Tax Benefits in Public Offerings, 88  U. Colo. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

The “supercharged IPO”, a new and increasingly popular financial transaction, has fundamentally changed the nature of IPOs for many companies. Traditionally, an IPO was a tax nonevent for the company and the owners, meaning it created no tax liability for either. Through creative and questionable tax planning, companies have found a way to do better than this by effectively generating a negative tax liability for the company and its owners. These transactions have received substantial attention from practicing lawyers, investment bankers, journalists, and even briefly caught the attention of Congress. Yet these transactions have attracted surprisingly little scrutiny from scholars, and the attention they have received has failed to consider the different types of supercharged IPOs, which is necessary for understanding why these transactions exist, why they have increased in popularity, and whether they are justified legally and normatively. This Article examines the costs and benefits of the different types of supercharged IPOs to show that some of these transactions have greater tax benefits than scholars have realized. It places a particular emphasis on the Up-C, a structure with the greatest tax benefits, which scholars have overlooked even though it is by far the most common, and increasingly popular, form of supercharged IPO. A closer examination of the Up-C, separate from other supercharged IPOs, reveals that this structure produces tax benefits that are not justified by the regulations that supposedly allow them.

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April 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oei, Simkovic Debate The Knowledge Tax

Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane), Supply, Demand, and the Taxation of Knowledge, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 268 (2016):

In The Knowledge Tax, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1981 (2015), Professor Michael Simkovic tackles the question of why rates of return on higher education are higher than rates of return on other types of investments, such as equity and real estate. Dissatisfied with existing economic explanations, the additional account that he offers is distortionary taxation: specifically, we tax higher education less favorably than other investments, thereby driving down demand for higher education relative to alternatives, creating an undersupply of labor, and buttressing education’s rate of return. In this invited response essay, I explore some of the issues raised but left open by The Knowledge Tax. I largely accept the article’s factual premise — that pretax rates of return on higher education are higher than returns on equity — but question some aspects of the argument and develop other aspects. I make three basic points: First, it is not clear that higher education is, in fact, taxed less favorably than traditional investments. Second, the analysis rests on the assumption that higher education and capital investment are substitutes, but it is not clear the extent to which this is the case. Finally, to the extent that tax considerations play a role in the decisions of potential students, we need a more robust account of which tax incentives matter.

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Taxes, Subsidies, and Knowledge: A Reply to Professor Oei, 82 U. Chi.. L. Rev. Dialogue ___ (2016):

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April 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Simkovic:  In Law Firms, Lawyers And Paralegals Prosper While Secretarial Jobs Disappear

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Overall Stagnation in Legal Jobs Hides Underlying Shifts, by Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall):

Although about the same number of people work in law firms or in legal services today as a decade and a half ago, superficially static job aggregates mask substantial changes in employment patterns.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, law firms employed about 90,000 more lawyers and about 80,000 more paralegals in 2014 than at the start of the survey in 2001. At the same time, law firms shed 180,000 to 190,000 legal secretaries, other legal support workers and their supervisors.

The pattern is the same for other occupations at law firms. Low-skilled jobs like bookkeepers, file clerks and in data entry are shrinking, while high-skilled jobs like professional workers, skilled managers and computer specialists are growing.

Lawyers account for less than half of the jobs in legal services. Like most businesses, law firms employ a large number of support personnel. Unfortunately, many commentators on the legal profession have overlooked the crucial distinctions between legal services employment, lawyers and law school graduates.

As a result, they have mischaracterized a decline in the fortunes for low-skilled support workers at a time of expanding opportunities for highly educated workers as stagnation for all. ...

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April 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

American University Law Profs Disgrace Themselves

WCLALMFollowing up on my previous post, 60 American Law Profs Condemn Anonymous Student For Posting 'All Lives Matter' On Prof's Door:  Power Line, American University Law Faculty Members Disgrace Themselves:

Recently, a student at American University Washington College of Law put a note on the door of a law professor stating “All Lives Matter.” This expression of what ought to be truism caused the AU law faculty to freak out.

Nearly sixty faculty members and staff signed a letter calling this an “incidence of intolerance.” A sounder position would hold that objecting to the statement “All Lives Matter” as a response to the statement “Black Lives Matter” smacks of intolerance because it places one racial group on a higher level than others. ...

Our friends Gail Heriot [San Diego] and Peter Kirsanow [Cleveland State] of the Civil Right Commission have sent a letter to the dean of AU law school about this matter. They state:

We write as two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole. And while we are required to begin our letters with the preceding sentence under the Commission’s rules, we would have preferred to open with: What is wrong with your faculty and staff members?

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April 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The Day Free Speech Died At Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School Logo (2014)Observer:  The Day Free Speech Died at Harvard Law School, by Avrahm Berkowitz (J.D. 2016, Harvard):

Under the cloak of anonymity, 'Students For Inclusion' quickly devolved into a means of shaming behavior on campus.

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April 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1061

IRS Logo 2 Nevada Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial,  IRS Foot-Dragging:

As Pepperdine University law professor and TaxProf Blog editor Paul Caron has been dutifully documenting, it has now been more than 1,050 days since word of a scandal broke involving the IRS’s systematic delaying and denying of nonprofit status to conservative political groups, in order to diminish their influence on the 2012 election.

In 2013, a conservative group called the NorCal Tea Party Patriots filed a class action lawsuit against the agency, requesting access to files the IRS kept on the targeted groups. The agency refused to hand them over and the Justice Department stonewalled on its investigation, arguing that the files are protected by Section 6103 of the U.S. code, which was intended to assure taxpayers that their returns would remain confidential.

But as the Wall Street Journal reported, while the IRS has repeatedly dragged its feet in responding to the request — and the media has pretty much buried the story — the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals thankfully tore into the agency’s obstructionist conduct last week, ruling that the IRS must turn over spreadsheets it created on the targeted groups. Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel, called the allegations against the IRS “substantial” and “among the most serious allegations a federal court can address.”

“The district court ordered production of those lists, and did so again over an IRS motion to reconsider,” he wrote. “Yet, almost a year later, the IRS still has not complied with the court’s orders.” ...

The IRS hiding behind taxpayer privacy concerns is ridiculous, and the Sixth Circuit should be applauded for its ruling. These conservative groups in question don’t mind if their information becomes public, and, in fact, the spreadsheets could be the linchpin to their case, proving the IRS was intentionally and illegally targeting groups based on their political beliefs.

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to remember why this scandal matters so much in the first place. This isn’t just executive branch employees running roughshod over Americans’ rights, which already happens too often to begin with. No, this is about our nation’s federal tax collection agency using taxpayer resources and its considerable powers to actively influence the outcome of national elections.

The IRS needs to meet that seven-day deadline — that’s this week — with no excuses, and with every piece of documentation the Sixth Circuit mandated. The Department of Justice also needs to move its investigation forward and hold the IRS accountable for its actions.

Furthermore, this issue is one among many proving that the IRS’s reach is far too extensive, to the point of being partisan, and that the tax code is far too onerous for American citizens. The Republican-led Congress needs to pass a massive tax reform bill and put it on the president’s desk.

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April 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 3, 2016

89% Of Tax Executives Say Tax Reform Most Likely If Republicans Control Both House & Senate

Miller & Chevalier & National Foreign Trade Council, 2016 Tax Policy Forecast Survey:

As both the 114th Congress and President Barack Obama’s second term come to a close, respondents to the 10th Annual Miller & Chevalier/National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Tax Policy Forecast Survey expect 2016 to bring more conversation but little legislative action on tax policy. ...

Despite the increasing rhetoric, none of this year’s survey respondents believe tax reform will happen in 2016. An overwhelming number of respondents (82 percent) believe there will be no tax legislation at all this year. And, while believing that changes in government leadership should positively impact the likelihood of tax reform, respondents remain unsure whether tax reform will happen in the near future. Respondents are evenly divided as to whether tax reform will be enacted in 2017 or 2018, and almost 11 percent believe it will never happen.

Tax executives say divided government is one of the major impediments to enacting tax reform legislation. Nearly 90 percent believe that tax reform is most likely if Republicans control both the House and the Senate; just 7 percent think Democratic control of both houses of Congress would yield progress.

MC

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April 3, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Will TurboTax Boycott Lead To Free Government-Prepared Tax Returns?

TurboTax BoycottDylan Matthews (Vox), Why I'm Boycotting TurboTax This Year:

It's tax season again, and that means you're probably thinking about using TurboTax. You wouldn't be alone; Intuit, the company that sells TurboTax, claims the app has 31 million users. Its competitors did pretty well for themselves too, with H&R Block preparing more than 20 million returns last cycle and millions more using TaxAct and TaxSlayer.

Let me be blunt: You should not pay for TurboTax. If you want to use a free version of TurboTax or H&R Block at Home or TaxAct, go nuts. But for the love of God, don't give Intuit money

TurboTax is an evil, parasitic product that exists entirely because taxes are confusing and hard to file. Worse than that, Intuit is one of the loudest voices on Capitol Hill arguing against measures that make it easier to pay taxes. The Obama administration has argued for automatic tax filing, in which the IRS uses income information it already has to fill out your tax return for you. That would save millions of Americans considerable time and energy every year, but the idea has gone nowhere. The main reason? Lobbying from Intuit and H&R Block.

Don't give Intuit money. Don't give H&R Block money. To do so is to perpetuate the status quo in which you have to file your own taxes in the first place. The best way to escape this trap is for millions of taxpayers to start doing their own taxes in hopes of weakening Intuit and H&R Block and depriving them of money they could use to lobby against auto-filing. This requires privileging your own long-term interests ahead of your short-term ones; it's mildly annoying to do your taxes by hand for now, but in the long run, if the plan works, you won't have to do your own taxes at all. ...

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April 3, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

MBE Average Score Plummets To 33-Year Low; Declining LSAT Scores Of Current Law Students Portend Even Worse Bar Exam Carnage In 2016, 2017 & 2018

MBEABA Journal, Multistate Bar Exam Average Score Falls to 33-Year Low:

The mean scaled score on the February administration of the Multistate Bar Examination fell to 135, down 1.2 points from the previous year and the lowest average score on a February administration of the test since 1983.

The number of test-takers was up 4 percent from last year, from 22,396 in 2015 to 23,324 this year, according to Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which developed and scores the test. February scores are typically lower than July scores, Moeser said, because July test-takers tend to be first-time test takers, who generally score higher on the exam than repeat takers. ,,,

The July 2015 results were also down 1.6 points from the previous year, to 139.9, its lowest point since 1988.

Wall Street Journal, Bar Exam Scores Slip Even Further:

Disappointing but not a shock is how Ms. Moeser described the results. For a couple of years, she’s been warning — and arguing with some law schools — about the caliber of students they’re admitting.

She’s not the only one. Other legal education experts, pointing to an overall slide in LSAT scores of recent incoming classes, have projected weaker bar-exam performance.

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April 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and other reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. [509 Downloads]  Lexisnexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance: Chapter 1, by Willliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [459 Downloads]  What Now? A Boomer's Baedeker for the Distribution Phase of Defined Contribution Retirement Plans, by Richard Kaplan (Illinois)
  3. [288 Downloads]  The Tax Lives of Uber Drivers: Evidence from Internet Discussion Forums, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)
  4. [227 Downloads]  Ownership of the Means of Production, by E. Glen Weyl (Chicago) & Anthony Lee Zhang (Stanford)
  5. [222 Downloads]  Taxing Wealth Seriously, by Edward J. McCaffery (USC)

April 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1060

IRS Logo 2Stuart Bassin (Bassin Law Firm, Washington, D.C.; former Senior Litigation Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division), Sixth Circuit Requires IRS to Disclose Return Information of Non-Parties in Tea Party Exempt Organization Litigation:

Last week, the Sixth Circuit rejected a government mandamus petition seeking to overturn a trial court discovery order requiring the Service to disclose the names of non-party organizations whose applications for tax exempt status were allegedly treated improperly because of the organization’s political views. In re United States; United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots, Case No. 15-3793 (March 22, 2016).

The underlying case arose out of allegations that the Service discriminated against conservative organizations in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status.  According to the plaintiffs, the Service gave increased scrutiny to some organizations in reviewing their applications and, in some cases, requested additional and unnecessary information from the applicants to delay review of their applications.  Substantively, the plaintiffs’ legal claims assert violations of the First Amendment and the Section 6103 prohibition against disclosure of taxpayer return information.  Earlier this year, the trial court certified the case as a class action, a development I discussed in an earlier post in Procedurally Taxing.

The dispute before the Court of Appeals involved a discovery order issued by the trial court requiring the Service to identify other taxpayers whose applications for exempt status received comparable scrutiny–information the taxpayers sought in hopes of identifying additional class action plaintiffs. The Service resisted, contending that the disclosure was barred by Section 6103. The district court, expressing exasperation with the Service’s interference with the case’s development, ordered production of the information, ruling that disclosure was authorized under Section 6103(h)(4)(B) because the information was reflected in a return “directly related to the resolution of an issue” in litigation. The Government then filed its petition for writ of mandamus.

The Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the order allowing the discovery, taking several opportunities to criticize the Service’s actions and the Justice Department’s advocacy. ... [T]he tone of the opinion should be of great concern to the Government. Both the appellate panel and the trial court have made clear their impatience with, and distaste for, the Government’s procedural challenges to the taxpayer’s claims. Every indication is that the courts are willing to rule against the Government if the taxpayers’ assertions of disparate treatment are proven at trial, although it will be interesting to see what remedy will be allowed. The Government can continue fighting, but that seems to be an uphill battle and a battle which may produce further precedent that the Service will not like.

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April 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

19th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference Concludes Today At Tulane

Tulane (2015)The 19th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference concludes today at Tulane:

Panel #4:  Tax Expenditures, Social Insurance, and Younger Generations (Chair: Charlotte Crane (Northwestern))

  • Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago) & David Herzig (Valparaiso), The Effect of Obergefell on the Tax Exemption of Churches and Religiously-Affiliated Organizations
  • Neil Buchanan (George Washington), Social Security, Inequality, and Younger Generations
  • Nancy Shurtz (Oregon), Rethinking the Taxable Unit: Why Dependency Trumps Marriage as the Preferred Reference Standard

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April 2, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)